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THE

VOICE

OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW Print Post Approved PP235387100064

ISSN 10353615

Celebrating 80 years of service

February 2012

Aged care: sell or reverse mortgage your house

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February 2012

THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW


Letters CPSA Executive (as at 2.11.2011)

Grace Selway OAM CPSA President Bob Jay CPSA Secretary Betty Chamberlain CPSA Treasurer Bill Holland Senior Vice President Assistant Treasurer George Ray Vice President Sue Latimer Assistant Secretary Shirley Bains Margaret Craven-Scott Jim Grainda Marie Mihell Colin Vernon Barbara Wright

THE VOICE

OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW

Phone: 1800 451 488 Fax: (02) 9281 9716 Email: voice@cpsa.org.au Production: Amelia Christie, Antoine Mangion & Paul Versteege Printer: MPD, Unit E1, 46-62 Maddox Street, Alexandria NSW 2015 All content prepared by the editorial and production team with reference to stories on AAP newswire, unless indicated.

THE VOICE CPSA, Level 9, 28 Foveaux St Surry Hills NSW 2010

Letters are personal views only and do not necessarily reflect CPSA policy. Ed.

Crystal ball reporting A RECENT report in The [Newcastle] Herald, “Is this really the end of the line?”, appears to be wishful thinking. Unless the Premier has had an enormous change of direction, the last he had to say was that ‘the people of the Hunter will decide the future of the rail’. Then four people  were  appointed to the Hunter Infrastructure and Finance Advisory Board, under Chairman Mayor Peter Blackmore and as best as I can ascertain, these worthies have been instructed, in conjunction with the community, to  propose a twenty year transport plan for the Hunter which they shall recommend to the Premier. It seems presumptive to report on the outcome of this study even before they meet, or is the Board merely a charade? No community involvement with the Board has yet occurred.

No responsibility is accepted for the accuracy of information contained in advertisements or text supplied by other organisations or individuals and/or typographical errors. CPSA does not support or promote the products or views in paid advertising. 2

Industrialised people THE TRAGEDY of that devastating fire at the Quakers Hill Nursing Home and resulting deaths, injuries and displacement of those beautiful people is a given. However, what I found disturbing was when the CEO in a television interview said, “Others from the aged care industry…”. We don’t refer

to childcare or people with disability in institutionalised care as being an ‘industry’. Therefore, I feel that the word ‘industry’ implies that care for our aged is all about profit and not nursing or treating them with due dignity and respect in the winter of their lives. Furthermore, it is evident that people employed or associated with elder care aren’t subject to the same rigorous background checks as that given to childcare. I hope that some good can come from this as I wish well for all involved. Wendy Jayne Wollstonecraft, NSW The high cost of living WE ARE all aware of the high increases in water, gas and power, but the cost of food and groceries is also rising at much the same high rate. Why? Because in 1974 the Trade Practices Act was changed to free up the market,

Donations, Bequests, Membership and THE VOICE subscriptions Membership is open to all who support the aims and objectives of CPSA

Disclaimer

Considering that the Hunter Local Government Group has agreed that the most pressing issue in the Hunter Region is to complete the Glendale Interchange and that no Hunter Local Council supports the Newcastle light rail plan, it’s difficult to imagine that the Hunter Region would support cutting our main transport artery at hundreds of millions of dollars cost, for no possible benefit to anyone except developers. George Paris Rathmines, NSW

I’d like to renew my Membership or join CPSA as a Member and enclose my individual Membership fee of $12 (Includes a free annual subscription to THE VOICE, valued at $25.00). I agree to be bound by the CPSA Constitution and uphold the Objectives and Policies of CPSA. I support the CPSA Objectives. I have not previously been expelled from CPSA or, if I have been expelled, I have attached a copy of my CPSA Executive exemption. Please send me information about my nearest Branch. I do not wish to join CPSA but would like to subscribe to THE VOICE (1 year—$25.00 incl. GST). I belong to an organisation and would like information about how we can become a Branch or an Affiliate of CPSA. (NB: Branches are covered by CPSA’s $10 million Public Liability Insurance). I wish to make a donation of $______ (All donations above $2 are tax deductible). Please send me information about THE VOICE gift subscriptions.

I wish to make a bequest to CPSA in my Will. Please send me information. Name:_____________________________________________________________________________ Address:___________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________State:_____________Postcode:__________ Phone: ______________________________Email:_________________________________________ Payment details (for credit card): Visa Mastercard Name on card:__________________________Card Number:___________________Expiry:_________ Amount:______________________ Signature:_____________________________________________ Please send to: CPSA, Level 9, 28 Foveaux St, Surry Hills NSW 2010

February 2012

THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW


Letters allowing manufacturers and retailers to charge ‘what they like’, as the ACCC will inform you. So over the years, corporate business bought its competitors out, resulting in a lack of competition now in most cases. We have mainly just one or two players in the major markets. Coles and Woolworths are controlling our petrol, liquor and food, and now between them they own 434 hotels, with at least 14,500 poker machines, making them Australia’s largest force in hotels and gambling. Where will they stop in such a small population of 22 million? A review of the 1974 Act would be a start and so too increasing the power of NSW Fair Trading and consumer affairs. Charles Lindstrom Saratoga, NSW Despite Medicare, treatment is very costly THREE months ago I fractured my wrist and had to have it put in plaster, but instead of the doctors doing it, I had to go to the physiotherapists and had to pay $129 for the cast.  Now would you believe, they have no pension rate and it’s not covered by Medicare! It is only covered by private health insurance.  I asked about going to the hospital to have it done and was told I would have to go to the fracture clinic, then see a surgeon and I’m not sure what else I would have

had to do. I already knew it was fractured because I had a very extensive bone scan done.  I have had to have the first cast cut off because it was too tight, then I had to have two braces made: one cost $70, the other $20. None are covered by Medicare.  I had the brace on for about 6 weeks then had another bone scan and found out that the fracture was still there, so I had to have it put back in plaster, and the plaster cast this time cost me $132 with nothing from Medicare.  I’m just hoping that in three weeks’ time when they take it off, I won’t have to have more plaster put on.  I think $351 is enough for one wrist. I just thought that people should know how much it costs if you fracture or break a bone. Annie Harris Shellharbour, NSW

not sound much, but to a pensioner it is.  Whether it be Government, Councils or just businesses, the rises affect us all.  I can grant you if there is a pension rise, then everything else goes up.  I’m still only a young 60+ but there are older pensioners out there who are finding it very hard.  We need a bigger push from CPSA on housing. Eli Harris Shellharbour, NSW

What kind of pain? Physical, mental or emotional? What about those with dementia? What about those with onset Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease. What about a lady who has lost her husband and children in a car accident and the pain of her grief is unendurable? How are you going to phrase the law so that innocent people do not suffer and how are you going to prevent it becoming a profitable enterprise? Cerainly more work needs to At a meeting of interested be done on housing. CPSA parties held a few years ago campaigned tirelessly to have in Tasmania, despite the the pension increase exempt majority of those present from public housing rents. inclined to bring in such Our work resulted in two a law, they had to admit ‘freezes’ until last September. that there was no way to CPSA continues to also phrase the new law without campaign for reforms to rent leaving too many loopholes. assistance and private rental Why then this insistence on as well as further boosts to changing the law? Population public housing stock. Ed. reduction? To answer Mr Munro’s Manipulating our fear of reference to overseas Increased costs from all dying companies’ investment in directions I FEEL that we are being nursing homes (THE VOICE I APPRECIATE the NSW manipulated by our fear of Dec 11-Jan 12), I have been Government in making pain and dementia, not to unable to find any such housing wait two years, but mention the coined phrases homes. There seems to be now it comes from every ‘a dignified death’ and ‘the those run by various religious direction. As of 10 October right to choose’. What is so affiliations and various trusts 2011 rent has risen $3.75 dignified about being put and the charges are all set and per week  and from 9 April down like a dog? enforced by the government 2012 it will increase another What is the true aim of who decides how much $3.75 per week.  We also pay this manipulation? Are ‘they’ each person is charged, around $12 per fortnight for overcome with compassion depending on their assets. I water.  It is nearly always at the thought of anyone’s would assume that overseas different every month. Down pain? I think not. ownership would make no here in my area, most homes The outcome of all this is a difference. I consider that have both gas and electricity, change in the law giving the this is iniquitous and needs which we have been told are medical profession license to be addressed. both due to rise again.  To to kill/murder/do away with Jean Porteous a lot of people this might anyone in extreme pain. Helensburgh, NSW

Send a letter to THE VOICE THE VOICE, CPSA Level 9, 28 Foveaux St Surry Hills NSW 2010

voice@cpsa.org.au

You must include your name and suburb/town for the letter to be published, though these may be omitted in publication if the letter contains personal information. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. February 2012

www.cpsa.org.au

CPSA - who we are CPSA was founded in 1931 in response to pension cuts. CPSA is a non-profit, non-party-political membership association which serves pensioners of all ages, superannuants and low-income retirees. The aim of CPSA is to improve the standard of living and well-being of its Members and constituents. 1800 451 488

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Members’ page Garden of Remembrance

CPSA Merchandise

Badges Membership : pin Membership: magnet Title Bar* + pendant Title Bar* Pendant (*except Welfare Officer Asst Soc. Sec.) Cards Membership card Waratah card

$4.50 $4.50 $9.00 $5.00 $4.00 $10.15 $16.15 $0.10 $1.00

Card wallet $3.30 Certificate (80/90 years/Appreciation) $1.10 Emergency medical information book $2.00 Leather key ring $5.50 Letter opener: silver or gold $10.00 Do Not Knock Sticker FREE for individuals* Tea caddy spoon $4.40 Please add postage to all items. *A small fee may apply to bulk orders. CPSA has replaced the President/Secretary/Treasurer badges with Branch President, Branch Secretary, Branch Treasurer badges. Your existing badge will be replaced free of charge by posting the badge to Head Office and requesting a replacement. THE e-VOICE is available on the internet. Visit our website, www.cpsa.org.au, and sign up at THE VOICE - Subscribe Head Office News Head Office News is sent to all Branch Secretaries, Presidents and Treasurers with the instruction to read it aloud to the Branch meeting. Every Branch Member is also entitled to receive a copy. If you would like a copy, please call Head Office on 1800 451 488.

CPSA Conference 2011 Thank you to those Branches and Area Councils which contributed to Delegates’ accommodation expenses. Thank you also to those generous Members who donated towards CPSA’s costs in running a two day Conference. New CPSA Branch welcoming Members The Foveaux Street Branch meets to discuss CPSA policy and campaigns at 10.15am on the second Friday of the month at CPSA Head Office. If you are interested in participating, please call CPSA on 1800 451 488. Donations

Anonymous V. Borg J. Campbell Gunnedah CPSA P. Lenton Condition of CPSA Membership

$88.00 $60.00 $50.00 $50.00 $103.00

According to the NSW Associations Incorporation Act 2009 (Schedule 1, clause 11(1)(a) and Appendix 1 based on Clause 3(1)), it is a condition of your ongoing CPSA membership that you agree to comply with CPSA’s Constitution including Aims & Objectives. If you have any questions or would like a copy of the Constitution, please call Head Office on 1800 451 488.

Crossword by Hilda Thorburn

Across

Down

1. Parts of submarines (7,6) 8. A Porsche is a ... ... (5,3) 9. Outcasts 10. Spleen is one (5,5) 11. Killer Whale 12. Holidaying where? (2,4) 14. Responding 17. Type of pasta 20. Indicate 23. US Mormon state 24. Lucidly 25. More pretentious 26. Most loquacious 27. Defenceless person (7,6)

1. Continue (5,2) 2. The silverback gorilla is missing: there is ... ... male (2,5) 3. Disguised 4. A building in Berlin (6,9) 5. Leered 6. Take advantage of 7. Crusader’s foe 13. Brand of ballpoint pen 15. Our country 16. Pub, hotel 18. Red supergiant star 19. Non-believer 21. Shooting 22. Something’s missing; ... ... there (3,3’1) 24. Welsh dog

Answers on back page

~ Rest in Peace ~

CPSA is grateful for all donations. Due to lack of space, the following only includes donations above $35 received since the last edition of THE VOICE:

Reminder

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Budgewoi CPSA Member, June Hill, passed away on 24 November 2011. June was a very popular lady and will be sadly missed.

February 2012

THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW


Members’ news Pensioners’ group pushes for beds By Melody Montague, The Area News, Griffith, 11 November 2011 GRIFFITH seniors are leading the way in pushing for more nursing home beds in NSW. With many locals being forced to reside in Hay or Hillston as they age, due to a lack of Griffith beds, it’s an important issue for the region. Delegates from the Griffith Branch of Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association (CPSA), Peter Katsoolis and Peter Knox, brought up the issue at the organisation’s annual conference. “We need more beds so that older people can be in close vicinity of family and longterm friends,” Mr Katsoolis

said. “The way it is now, people are living in a strange place and that, in itself, is not good for them.” A motion to lobby the Federal Government to increase the number of beds in the state’s nursing homes was passed. Much of the discussion at the conference was about the need for retirees to sell their homes to pay for aged care. Mr Katsoolis said the government should be putting more money into aged care to alleviate the problem. “You work hard all your life for your family and in the end, your home is all you have to give your children,” he said. “The government should add three per cent onto everyone’s tax. Everyone would complain about it to

begin with but, after a while, that would just be the amount. “The problem is that most aged care facilities are private enterprise. They spend $2 million building a centre and they want profit on that $2 million. I can understand their point of view but it’s not good for the nation.” Age-old loyalty to club By Leah Humphrys, The Area News, Griffith, 11 November 2011 IT’S a club where age is celebrated and wisdom is shared. And Kath McGarry has become Griffith’s first Life Member. Mrs McGarry was awarded life membership of Griffith CPSA on Tuesday 8 November after nearly 20 years of service. She became a Member in

1982 because her husband was one of the club’s founders and has attended nearly every meeting since then. She was rapt to receive the award. “I’m honoured but I was also very surprised,” Mrs McGarry said. “It’s a lovely club.” President Peter Katsoolis said Mrs McGarry had been a loyal member over the years and had been the longest serving of anyone in the Branch. “People come and go but Kath comes to all the meetings, so we thought it appropriate that she get a Branch life membership,” Mr Katsoolis said. “We were very pleased to give it to her.” Mrs McGarry said the Association worked hard to campaign for pensioners and urged more people to become Members.

Computer Pals for Seniors

Computer Pals for Seniors West Ryde Inc. is a club that was formed over ten years ago by a group of people determined to introduce older people in the area to the basic skills needed to use computers. The tutors are all volunteers. Some are retired professionals while others are keen to share their wide knowledge with their students. Classes are held in a permanent room rented from St Columb’s Church on the corner of Dickson and Bellevue Avenues, West Ryde. In most classes there are four or five students, each at one computer, with one tutor. Classes are held Monday to Friday during school terms so each course runs for nine or ten weeks. There are morning and afternoon sessions on most days, each being for one hour at the same time each week.

Why I’m a Friend of CPSA by the late Bert Heinemann I grew up in the 30s depression years on a Bossley Park farm. Most of the people there were unemployed. On our farms we got by in part by self-sufficiency – growing our own vegetables and fruit. Given such a repetition, how many could get by in such a manner these days? When we attend a Christmas concert or use our Pensioner Excursion Ticket to go there, or receive appropriate health care or discounts when shopping, how many are aware that an February 2012

The club now teaches a variety of courses from beginners’ courses to others including Family History, Photo Imaging, Card-Making, the Internet and advanced Word Processing. Fees are kept to a minimum. They cover the rent, maintenance and replacement of the computers and the purchase of consumables such as paper and ink cartridges. So, if you want to use a computer to ‘type’ documents, email your friends or find information on the internet, Computer Pals for Seniors is a great way to start. To contact us, please ring Larry Stansfield, 9878 4219, or Margaret Somerville, 9874 2645. If you are interested in computer courses but do not live in the West Ryde area, call the Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association on 02 9286 3871.

Friends of CPSA

earlier generation of CPSA Members helped to achieve this concession? These days the need for an independent organisation in an increasing user-pays society is more important than ever. The availability of public services, Medicare, electricity supplies and Telstra is diminishing. CPSA has always done its best to guard these aids to decent living. To obtain finance for such efforts by donations, raffles and membership fees limits us to bare bones maintenance of the organisation. A fund, where the capital is not used, will give CPSA

www.cpsa.org.au

1800 451 488

better capability of meeting the needs of Members and their families as they leave the workforce. I have made a bequest to CPSA which will allow CPSA to continue its efforts on the behalf of pensioners and superannuants. I invite others to join me to do the same.

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CPSA Member Benefit

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February 2012

THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW


Aged Care Sell or reverse mortgage your house UNDER proposals by the Productivity Commission, the family home will be included in the means test for aged care. Nursing home care and all types of home care. No exceptions. No exemptions. If you don’t have a spare half a million dollars, you will lose your house. You will pay up to 25 per cent of your care costs, to a lifetime maximum of $60,000 per person. That’s

$120,000 for a couple. You will pay 100 per cent of your accommodation costs if you go into a nursing home. There’s no maximum and the charge will be set by the nursing home. That would cost you whatever you’ve got left over after paying for care costs. There are two ways to lose your house. You choose. There’s the Australian Age Pensioners Savings

Account, which takes one kind of deposit: the proceeds from the sale of the principal residence. Whatever the balance in the account, it will be exempt from the Age Pension test. Sounds generous, but wasn’t the house you just sold exempt from the Pension test? Then there’s the Australian Aged Care Home Credit Scheme, a reverse mortgage in anybody’s book.

The Government goes on the title deed as mortgagee. Your house gets valued and an amount is determined up to which you can borrow against your house. If you are a couple, each can use half of that amount to fund aged care. As you receive aged care, the meter starts ticking and a debt starts to accumulate, boosted by compound interest. The debt is paid when the house is sold.

Quakers Hill Nursing Home Fire Update THE aftermath of the fire that raged through the Quakers Hill Nursing home in November is still being felt with discussions surrounding the necessity of sprinkler systems still being dodged by the nursing home industry. Two months have passed since the fire struck and over half of the 32 residents hospitalised with injuries have died. At the time of writing, 18 of the people hospitalised from the fire had passed away and two were still in hospital. Roger Dean, a nurse at the facility, has been charged with ten counts of murder and is expected to face Central Local Court on February 16. A further death has been linked to the fire but the Blacktown Advocate has reported that police won’t confirm if the other seven deaths are linked. THE VOICE believes that seven deaths from natural causes after such a traumatic incident is particularly suspicious, leaving grieving families in the lurch. To have 20 per cent of a total of 87 residents pass

away over a two month period and not attribute them to the trauma and physical injuries endured seems questionable. Despite the tragic outcome of the fire and the fact that the NSW fire brigade has stated that sprinklers can save lives, many in the nursing home business are still pushing for sprinklers to not be compulsory. Victoria and Queensland have made sprinklers compulsory in all residential buildings but NSW is yet to catch up. While new nursing homes are required to install sprinkler systems, the Quakers Hill facility, built in 1981, was not required to have such a system. Back in 2007 the Australian Building Codes Board investigated whether national standards (allowing nursing homes to operate without sprinklers) were inadequate but nursing home organisations lobbied against any changes. In New South Wales, twothirds of the approximately 900 nursing homes do not have a fire sprinkler system. CPSA is continuing to campaign for the mandatory installation of fire sprinklers into all nursing home

regardless of their size and the age of the buildings. We will keep you updated. We are also calling for nursing home residents, their families and staff to speak out if their nursing home is not properly fitted with a properly functioning sprinkler system. Federal law only requires

one registered nurse to be working at any one time, with other staffing levels left up to the discretion of the nursing home. The Quakers Hill Nursing Home had five staff members on at the time of the fire – one nurse and four nursing assistants – for a high care facility with 88 residents.

February 2012

www.cpsa.org.au

WIN a double pass to CORIOLANUS Only at the Movies February 23 Based on the play by William Shakespeare. Caius Martius ‘Coriolanus’ (Ralph Fiennes), is at odds with the city of Rome and his fellow citizens. Pushed by his controlling mother Volumnia (Vanessa Redgrave) to seek the position of Consul, he is loath to ingratiate himself with the masses whose votes he needs to secure the office. When the public refuse to support him, his anger prompts a riot which leads to his expulsion from Rome. The banished hero then allies himself with his sworn enemy Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler) to take his revenge on the city. For your chance to WIN one of 10 double passes to CORIOLANUS, simply tell us in 25 words or less why you would love to win! Send your answer and postal address to RSVP@iconfilm.com.au and include “CPSA – CORIOLANUS Competition” in the subject line or write to CPSA - CORIOLANUS Competition, PO Box 230, Darlinghurst NSW 1300 for the chance to win! 1800 451 488

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CPSA Campaigns Pensioner rebates: a need for root and branch reform? STATE-BASED rebates and concessions play an important role in a pensioner’s overall income package. They are supposed to help ensure that pensioners can afford essentials. But there have long been criticisms that, for a number of reasons, they have not been doing their job, meaning that essentials have increasingly become less affordable for many pensioners. So what issues should be examined in each of the major rebates if we are to call for reforms? Here we will consider such issues for three of the major NSW rebates: energy, rates and water. For starters, the value of a rebate unfairly differs depending on where you live. Energy and water rebates are the main examples here. Electricity prices, for example, are split into three jurisdictions – Energy Australia, Integral Energy and Country Energy. Regulated prices have been highest and increase by the most in the Country Energy area, so much so that an average household there pays $500 more a year than those elsewhere. Despite this huge difference, the same rebate is paid everywhere, leaving rural and regional pensioners and low-income households severely more out of pocket. What’s more, while there was a significant 38 per cent increase to the rebate last July, future increases are fixed, meaning they may not keep up with future price rises. Water rebates are even less fair. While Sydney pensioners receive a rebate that increases as prices 8

increase – and is this year worth $617 – Hunter Water pensioners receive a much smaller $239 which increases with prices, and worst off are all other pensioners who are serviced by a Local Water Utility (LWU). Their rebate has been fixed at $175 for over 20 years. H i s t o r i c a l l y,   t h e justification for the higher rebate provided to Sydney Water pensioners was that Sydney Water’s charges were higher than other jurisdictions and the $175 provided in LWUs covered a larger proportion of the bill. Both these points no longer apply. Water prices vary greatly across the state, but here’s an example of how differently the water rebates affect bills. If two single pensioners used the same amount of water, 75 kilolitres per year, but one lived in Sydney and the other in Bega, the pensioner living in Sydney would pay $273.99 while the one in Bega would pay $1,198.50 – almost 4.5 times more. This is because the $175 rebate makes little difference to the high prices paid by Bega households while the Sydney Water rebate covers nearly all of the service charges, leaving this pensioner to pay just 31 per cent of the actual bill. The Council Rate Rebate is another point of contention for many pensioners. It, too, has been stuck at $250 for over 20 years. Since 1993, the rebate has lost 60 per cent of its value against the Consumer Price Index while average NSW rates have more than doubled. Just as CPSA has called for an independent social security commission to set Centrelink pensions and allowances, the best approach

February 2012

to setting rebates might be to involve an independent body. NSW already has one that independently sets or oversees our utility prices, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART). Because of this, IPART would be best placed to set related rebates. The greatest benefit of this approach would be that the rebates would be taken out of the political process and set according to a defined understanding of what is equitable to pensioners and other low-income earners wherever they live. One can argue that the reason pensioners in rural and regional areas receive a small water rebate that doesn’t reflect the costs they face is because they do not make up a large political force. They do not make up as many pensioners as, say, in Sydney and, because there are many LWUs setting individual prices, the problem is not raised in unison and doesn’t get picked up by the mainstream metropolitan media. Giving responsibility to IPART would not mean automatic increases to every rebate simply because some feel they’re needed. In fact, IPART has voiced concern over the large rebate given to Sydney Water pensioners and also to the $2.50 pensioner travel tickets being a fixed price. Nevertheless,  an independent  approach is much more likely to appropriately work out what rebates are needed, who most needs them and how else to properly provide assistance. One thing’s for sure if this were to take place: we wouldn’t be waiting over 20 years to see adjustments to our rebates.

Changes to Home and Community Care THE Home and Community Care (HACC) program is currently undergoing some reforms as part of the wider National Health Reform agenda. As part of the agreement reached between the Australian and State and Territory Governments (except for Victoria and Western Australia), HACC would be split between the two levels of government, with the Australian Government taking responsibility for services for non-Indigenous people aged 65 years and over and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and over. The participating State and Territory Governments will have responsibility for care recipients under these ages. The Australian Government has already assumed full funding and policy responsibility as of 1 July 2011. From 1 July 2012, they will assume full operational responsibility as well. The reforms are supposed to allow the Australian Government – whoever is in office – to build a consistent approach to aged care services. This would cover home care services right through to residential aged care whilst also integrating primary and allied health services, GPs and acute care. Whatever  the Australian Government decides to do with the Productivity Commission’s recommendations on aged care, aged care reforms should be simpler to implement with only one level of government providing funding and oversight. Then again, the Australian

THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW


CPSA Campaigns Government does not have the experience that State and Territory Governments have in delivering community aged care programs. While a split along age lines sounds simple, there is certainly some complexity, due to the fact that many service providers deliver some degree of services to people of all ages. Some may provide services primarily aimed at older Australians but have younger clients as well, or vice versa. Others may provide services to both groups in a more even spread. Furthermore, these situations can change over time, seeing providers have a majority of older clients at one period, then younger clients at another. In cases where the service provider has a clear split of clients, say 70 per cent older and 30 per cent younger clients, two funding agreements will be necessary, one with the Australian Government, the other with the State or Territory Government. The funding should be split proportionally. If there is only a small percentage of clients on one side of the age split, an agreement may be reached that only one level of government will fund the entire service. Where a service is provided to a carer, such as respite services, the funding agreement will depend on the age of the person being cared for. Clients should not notice any initial changes and will continue to receive services from their current service provider. Individuals should be able to remain in the most appropriate care setting, regardless of age.

Of concern to CPSA is the Productivity Commission’s recommendations on aged care which, if implemented, would mean that most older clients would need to sell or reverse mortgage their home in order to receive HACC or any other aged care services. Also of interest is how the proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme will be implemented to complement the split. Another concern being raised by HACC providers – particularly smaller ones with mostly volunteer staff – is that some additional requirements, such as staff police checks, have to be met without matching support from governments. Police checks can be costly and take up a lot of time to process, particularly when there are a lot of volunteers. The concern is that if they add significantly to costs, this is likely to reduce the services being delivered.

February 2012

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Bupa and AFDA: A match made in Purgatory? DID you know that Bupa is now an affiliate member of the Australian Funeral Directors Association? Bupa is a global ‘not for profit’ aged care and private health fund giant. It recently rebranded private health funds MBF, HBA and Mutual Community under the one Bupa umbrella and now owns 47 nursing homes across the country through acquisitions over the last few years. News of the affiliation between the large health and aged care service provider and the funeral industry peak body made CPSA’s ears prick up. Funeral providers love cosying up to nursing homes – or ‘building relationships’ as they would have you call it

– because it can provide easy access to a seemingly captive market. When an aged care resident dies, the home may encourage the family to use the services of that provider. The concern arises because this has the potential to limit people’s capacity to search for a more affordable funeral and, in the long run, can also limit competition between funeral providers. So when one of Australia’s larger nursing home providers and second largest health insurance provider, Bupa, is accepted as an affiliate member of a peak funeral industry body, the AFDA, concerns about such practices can only increase. ‘Smart’ Meters add to pensioner electricity costs PENSIONERS may be forced to do their household chores overnight if they wish to save on electricity bills. The cost of running appliances and cooling your home could double under a new proposal put forward to the Gillard Government – unless you’re willing (and able) to restrict your electricity consumption to the hours between 10pm and 7am. Under the plan put forward, so-called smart meters would be rolled out across NSW, with the potential to hit pensioners

1800 451 488

and self-funded retirees at the hip pocket. What are smart meters? A smart meter is an electronic meter that records how much electricity is used by a household, with different tariffs for different times throughout the day. They are capable of remote communication which allows the meter owner or electricity supplier to send or collect information directly from the meter. This could include consumption data for billing purposes, notice to a supplier of a power outage or notice to a customer about prices at a given time. The meters allow providers and users to more accurately measure electricity use. Unlike traditional meters that average – and often estimate – total consumption over a three month period, smart meters are able to record how much electricity is used every 30 minutes, allowing customers to pay different rates for electricity based on when it is used. This is where pensioners might have a problem. While customers can benefit from time-of-use pricing if they are able to shift some of their consumption away from the higher price peak periods (from 2pm to 8pm) those more likely to be at home during the day can be left worse off.

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CPSA Campaigns Some NSW homes with the new meters already in place pay 44c a kilowatt hour between 2pm and 8pm, twice the flat rate. While Energy Australia has stated that 70 per cent of households would be better off with smart meters, research by St Vincent de Paul has shown that smart meters impose significant increases for those on pensions. There have already been several documented problems in Victoria, the first state to implement a mandatory smart meter installation policy. Household metering charges have increased by approximately $60 per meter per year since the introduction of smart meters, according to the Australian Energy Regulator. In fact, the price increase forecast for 2012 for consumers with a single element smart meter is between $99.31 and $153.95 per year, rising to between $127.46 and $219.90 by 2015! The program was originally budgeted at $800 million, yet Victorian taxpayers are now expected to foot a bill of $2.3 billion. EnergyAustralia began making smart meters mandatory in new or renovated homes in their NSW distribution area but in 2010 was forced to allow 200,000 households to revert back to a flat rate if they wished after some vigorous campaigning by groups such as CPSA. Now, under their new name, Ausgrid, they are conducting trials in Newcastle, Scone, Ku-ring-gai and the Sydney CBD hoping to make a case for more smart meter deployments. 10

CPSA cannot see justification in extending the roll-out of a flawed system. Surely the Government and energy providers can recognise that pensioners have been hit with enough rises in electricity costs and that they should not punish those that spend more time in the home. Dental Scheme grinds on THE MEDICARE Chronic Disease Dental Scheme is still alive and well after the Australian Government abandoned plans to close the program at the end of November. The scheme, providing up to $4,250 of dental treatment to people with a chronic disease, was set to close on 31 December. As reported in the last edition of THE VOICE, The Greens and the Coalition had voiced their opposition to having the scheme closed and, because they had the numbers in the Senate, the Government did not attempt to put legislation through. The announcement has pleased CPSA and the many hundreds of people who were still receiving treatment under the Scheme as it neared closure. There was great concern as to whether or not they would be able to finish their treatment because the Government had not made any announcements apart from stating that a much smaller, less comprehensive scheme would be announced in the 2012 Budget. CPSA is continuing its calls for this Scheme to be gradually expanded into a universal Medicare dental scheme. With 45 per cent of Australians unable to afford

February 2012

private dental care, 500,000 people on public dental waiting lists and 90 per cent of Australians willing to pay a higher Medicare levy, putting dental care in Medicare would be a great national reform. Accessibility focus of new transport forum WHILE there is still a long way to go, NSW Transport has shown it is willing to listen to transport users, forming an Accessible Transport Advisory Committee, of which CPSA is a member. Yet there are concerns that while this may be good news for people in the greater Sydney area, rural areas have little or no public transport to begin with. Here’s a run-down of the progress so far. The good news: The State Transit Authority (STA) plans to make its entire bus fleet wheelchair accessible within the next 5 years (currently only 53% of buses can accommodate wheelchairs). Metro train services now have audio and visual displays and more stations are set to acquire lift access. What still needs work: Many ride-on scooters are not recommended for travel on buses and some wheelchairs do not fit

within the designated area – Sydney Buses is working on an accreditation process for transport friendly wheelchairs with Standards Australia. Other issues that have been brought to NSW Transport’s attention by CPSA and other concerned groups include falling hazards such as station escalators that move too fast, and bus drivers taking off quickly (before passengers have the chance to sit down). There have also been incidents of bus drivers not allowing assistance animals (including guide dogs) onto buses with their owners, though NSW Transport assures us that all drivers get ample accessibility training. There is also the continued difficulty of purchasing prepay tickets in some areas and of course the fact that anyone would need a magnifying glass to read the timetables posted at bus stops. A key point raised is the need for transport services to look at the entire doorto-door journey. Accessible services are no good if the poorly-kept footpaths inhibit someone from getting to them. If you have experienced any transport accessibility problems that you’d like to pass on please contact CPSA’s Head Office on 1800 451 488.

WIN a double pass to THE GREY Only at the Movies February 16 Starring Academy Award nominee Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List), THE GREY tells the story of a group of oil-rig workers who find themselves stranded on the freezing Alaskan tundra after their plane home crashes. Their efforts to survive and find a way home to their loved ones are threatened when the men come under attack by a pack of wolves, who see the humans as intruders in their territory. For your chance to WIN one of 10 double passes to THE GREY, simply tell us in 25 words or less why you would love to win! Send your answer and postal address to RSVP@iconfilm.com. au and include “CPSA - THE GREY Competition” in the subject line or write to CPSA - THE GREY Competition, PO Box 230, Darlinghurst NSW 1300 for the chance to win!

THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW


CPSA Information Directory INCOME SECURITY Centrelink Age Pension 13 23 00 DSP/Carer benefits 13 27 17 Family Assistance 13 61 50 Welfare Rights Centre Info on Government pensions and other benefits (02) 9211 5300 1800 226 028 National Information Centre on Retirement Investments Anything for the small investor and people wondering about super or how to invest 1800 020 110 Financial Ombudsman Services Complaints about banking, insurance, super, financial planning 1300 780 808 Industry Fund Financial Planning 1300 138 848 Australian Taxation Office Super/Lost super 13 10 20 Personal tax 13 28 61 British Pensions in Australia Assistance in claiming the British Pension (02) 9521 7964 1300 308 353 No Interest Loans Scheme 1800 509 994

Seniors Information Service 13 12 44 Consumer Trader & Tenancy Tribunal Tenancy, trader and consumer disputes 13 32 20 Energy & Water Ombudsman (EWON) Complaints about all NSW electricity/gas retailers and Sydney and Hunter Water 1800 246 545 Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Phone and internet complaints 1800 062 058 GOODS AND SERVICE Telstra Pensioner Discount For basic plans only 1800 353 652 NSW Seniors Card Discounts on goods and services 1300 364 758 NSW Companion Card Free event admission for companions of eligible people with a disability 1800 893 044 IPART Energy Comparison Calculator 1300 136 888 HEALTH AND CARE

RIGHTS Australian Human Rights Commission Complaints about discrimination and harassment 1300 369 711 Commonwealth Ombudsman Complaints about Federal Government departments and agencies 1300 362 072 NSW Ombudsman’s Office Complaints about NSW Government agencies 1800 451 524 NSW Trustee and Guardian 1300 360 466 February 2012

Guardianship Tribunal Financial management orders for people with decisionmaking disabilities 1800 463 928

Commonwealth CareLink Info about aged and community care 1800 052 222 Office of Hearing Services Subsidised hearing aids 1800 500 726 Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 Single-gender Ward Hotline For patients who wish to be placed in a singlegender ward after 24hrs hospitalisation 1800 700 830 VisionCare NSW Subsidised spectacles (02) 9344 4122 1800 806 851 www.cpsa.org.au

Home Care Service NSW Domestic assistance, respite and personal care 1800 044 043 Rape Crisis Centre 24hours/7days 1800 424 017 Health Care Complaints Commission NSW only (02) 9219 7444 1800 043 159 Carers NSW Information, support 1800 242 636 Emergency respite 1800 059 059

HOUSING CPSA’s Older Persons Tenants’ Service (OPTS) Individual advocacy (02) 9566 1120 1800 13 13 10 CPSA’s Park and Village Service (PAVS) Individual advocacy for caravan parks and manufactured homes villages (02) 9566 1010 1800 177 688 NSW Department of Housing Info and applications 1300 468 746

Aged care information line Residential and community aged care information 1800 200 422 Aged Care Complaints Scheme Complaints about residential and community aged care 1800 550 552 Lifeline Mental health support, suicide prevention 13 11 14 Beyond Blue Depression and anxiety information 1300 224 636

Tenants Advice Line Mondays 3-6pm 1800 251 101 LEGAL The Aged-care Rights Service including Older Persons’ Legal Service Aged care and retirement village advocacy and information and legal advice for older people. (02) 9281 3600 1800 424 079 Law Access Referrals for legal help 1300 888 529

Public Dental Health Services Call NSW Health for details (02) 9391 9000 1800 639 398 Medicare Enhanced Primary Care Dental Scheme Call Medicare for details 132 011 People with Disabilities Advice for people with a disability (02) 9370 3100 1800 422 016 Exit Australia Information about euthanasia 1300 103 948 Dying with Dignity NSW (02) 9212 4782 Australian Men’s Shed Association 1300 550 009 1800 451 488

The Law Society Solicitor and legal firm referrals (02) 9926 0300 1800 422 713 Community Justice Centres Dispute resolution services for minor matters 9228 7455 Domestic Violence Advocacy Service 1800 200 526 Family Relationship Centres Relationship and separation information 1800 050 321 Office of the Legal Services Commissioner Complaints about lawyers and conveyancers 1800 242 958

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Giggle Page Hard of Hearing A man decided that his wife was getting hard of hearing. So he called her doctor to make an appointment to have her hearing checked. The doctor said he could see her in two weeks, and that in the meantime there was an informal test he could do to get some idea of the dimensions of the problem. “Start about 30 feet away from her, and speak in a normal conversational tone and see if she hears you. If not, go to 20 feet, then 10 feet, and so on until you get a response.” So that evening as his wife was in the kitchen cooking dinner, the man in the living room said to himself, “I’m about 30 feet away, let’s see what happens.” “Honey, what’s for supper?” No response.

HOW TO START EACH DAY WITH A SMILE ...

So he moved into the dining room, about 20 feet away. “Honey, what’s for supper?” No response.

1. Open a new file in your computer.

He then moved on to the kitchen door, only 10 feet away. “Honey, what’s for supper?” No response.

3. Send it to the Recycle Bin.

So he walked right up behind her. “Honey, what’s for supper?” “For the fourth time, CHICKEN!”

5. Your PC will ask you: ‘Do you really want to get rid of ‘Aged Care Funding Reforms?’

Now I know why I am overweight. The shampoo I use, which runs all over my body in the shower, clearly states ‘adds volume’. From now on I am going to shower with dishwashing liquid which ‘dissolves grease and fat on contact’.

12

February 2012

2. Name it ‘Aged Care Funding Reforms’.

4. Empty the Recycle Bin.

6. Firmly Click ‘Yes.’ 7. Feel better?

Crossword Solutions Crossword on page 4

THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW


THE VOICE - February 2012